After their meeting with the Five Houses of Hunghung (former warlord clans working “together” to usurp the throne from the devilish Madame Butterfly, the Told Ones returned to their inn, “The Purple Dumpring”. They promptly fell asleep two-to-a-room (yes it’s important), except for Deck and Henry, who espied some black-masked monk-ish types snuffing out the lights, then sneaking their way into the rooms, and attempting to stab everyone to death in their sleep. Thanks to some quick thinking from Deck and his extra-noisy “gonne”, the sneak attack was not as fatal as these “ninjas” had hoped, and the heroes jumped to action and fought them off bravely, exploding at least two of them and nearly burning down the inn (did I mention Lord M was there?). Upon checking the remaining ninjas’ corpses, the Told Ones noticed the seal of a Butterfly stitched to each of the assassins’ outfits. #treacheryafoot @somethingstinksinthestateofhunghung
Our heroes kindly paid for the damages to the Purple Dumpring, and promptly…fell asleep again, but for real this time. The next day brought a sense of hope, as the heroes set about some good-ol’-fashioned freeform “City RP-ing”: selling shit, busking (in the Bard‘s case), putting in a day’s work (Deck), meeting with the local chapter of the Assassins’ Guild (Dialyn), begging for rhinu then going to the dojo (I’ll let you guess), crap like that which we need from time to time in between death-battles. The group also communed with their old Beholder friends and asked for information regarding their ship The Holy Vessel as well as the whereabouts of Sandra & Mr. Slant.
Sen’dai and Beau met a young Agatean man on the streets who introduced himself (in an accent much like Deck’s, oddly enough) as Wee Wang McSweeney of the McSweeney clan. Yep. He said he had information from the Five Houses, at which point all the heroes reconvened. Wee Wang gave them a map of the Forbidden City, the elusive inner-city which housed Madame Butterfly’s labyrinthine stronghold known as the Forbidden Palace. They then discussed the best way to infiltrate this compound, and learned that they had to first take out the anti-magic field within the city, then deal with the ever-present search-lantern sentry-towers (that’s a lot of hyphens), and finally abscond with 2 Emblems (the Yin and the Yang) – which were the keys to entering the city – all while evading the vigilant Fluttering Horde, Madame Butterfly’s ninja patrol and enforcers. Oh, and one other thing: the Emblems, once removed from their housing, would trigger a 1-minute timer, after which point the master alarm would sound…UNLESS the Emblems were inserted into their “keyholes” at the Palace Gate. Talk about pressure!
The Told Ones finally met with the heads of the Houses (as well as their informant, the vizier “Larry”) at the Red Lotus Club, and laid out their plan: they would split into 2 teams (3 if you count Wee Wang and his Merry Band of NPCs), each team taking out half the anti-magic field and 1 of the sentry towers, then grabbing one of the Emblems and racing it to the Palace door. They also spread some of their new revolutionary friends out among the crowd to whom Loki (disguised as the vizier Larry) had promised FREE DINNER. This crowd descended upon the main Forbidden City gate like mimosa-parched vultures, creating a major distraction as Team Serenity (Sen’dai, Loki, Deck) and Team Hellion (Lord M, Dialyn, Beau) infiltrated the city walls from opposite ends, using their stealthiest of stealth checks.
Little by little, our heroes made their way over and across the city wall, taking out guards and destroying the anti-magic fields, working their ways inwards as two efficient-ass units towards the sentry towers. They also employed some solid banana-based distractions to trick some of the guards patrolling the streets. Each team incapacitated the guards atop each sentry tower and diverted the lantern beams away from the small huts where the Emblems were housed. Beau & Sen’dai, the fastest of the bunch, snatched the Emblems as soon as each sentry tower was “down”, then ran them quickly-yet-quietly to the Palace gates, where the rest of the party reassembled. You should’ve been there, the whole thing was pretty bad-ass.
Upon examining the Palace door, however (and with only seconds to spare before the alarm went off), the Told Ones noticed no “keyholes” for the Emblems. Had they been betrayed? Was their intel bad? Were they totally screwed? Find out next ti—
No just kidding, they just had to push that door open. But INSIDE that door was a huge inner courtyard with a weirdly-peaceful Zen Garden, at the other end of which was the door they needed to open (guarded by two last guards). Knowing they only had a moment remaining before the alarm triggered, our heroes began bolting towards the door…when they heard the sound of sweeping from nearby, and an old man calling out: “Spare a minute to help an old man sweep his garden?”